Florida is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the US. However, while some places may be great to visit temporarily, there are some locations in the state that should be avoided by prospective residents. So, what are the 20 worst places to live in Florida, and why are they so unsavory for newcomers? Keep reading to find out more about these places and why you want to avoid moving there if you plan to transplant roots to the Sunshine State.
We painstakingly compiled this data using the latest reputable sources. Information was gathered from residents and experts to reveal an accurate picture of the current status of the less desirable areas of Florida.
We, in turn, created a thorough list complete with helpful statistics, resident reports, and criminal activity reports submitted by local and state authorities. Some criteria include pollution, population density, violent crime reports, and availability of conveniences. The result is a useful and insightful list of the worst cities to live in Florida.
Orlando, Florida may be beloved by thrill-seekers for its world-famous theme parks, but for local residents, the constant need to stay one step ahead of the city's vast criminal element is all the adrenaline rush they need.
When it comes to both violent and property crime, the city is performing badly, with an average of 458.5 assaults per 100k, 8.1 murders, 64.4 rapes, 213 robberies, 840.9 burglaries, 4125.3 thefts, and 488.4 motor vehicle thefts.
If you do plan on making the city your next holiday destination, you'd be advised to invest in a few self-defense classes before you depart.
19. Riviera Beach
Riviera Beach is a suburb of West Palm Beach with 34,093 residents, great nightlife, nice views, and so ends the list of positives. When it comes to important things like job prospects, safety, and crime, it's C- all the way. As one reviewer on Niche puts it, "Overall, my neighborhood is getting worse. It's hard to find a good-paying job, and there is a huge increase in crimes. Education is taught but without passion."
Ocala, a decently sized town in Marion County, is blessed with all kinds of good stuff: a temperate climate, a good school system, affordable housing, and lots of excellent public amenities. Unfortunately, it's also blessed with the kind of crime that makes most residents very conscious of keeping their doors locked and their windows barred.
The violent crime rate per capita stands at an alarming 783, while property crime stands at an even more worrying 5310. My advice if you're passing through? Keep your windows closed and your foot on the pedal.
17. Pembroke Park
It may only have a population of 6,347 but don't expect a close-knit, family-friendly community if you move into Pembroke Park. Violent crime rates are soaring in the Fort Lauderdale superb, with an average of 630.2 aggravated assaults per 100,000 residents, 31.5 murders, 47.3 rapes, and 488.4 robberies.
The property crime rates are similarly alarming, with 1,055.6 burglaries, 3,308.6 thefts, and 267.8 motor vehicle thefts.
16. Belle Glade
With a median household income of just $25,873, residents of Belle Glade are bringing home just over half the salary most US citizens can expect. As it so often does, low income, low job prospects, and high poverty levels translate into a depressingly high incidence of crime.
When Niche grades a city a C- for its crime rate, you know something's not quite right; in the case of Belle Glade, that translates to a yearly average of 1042.5 assaults (compared to the national average of 282.7), 15.6 murders (compared to an average of 6.1), and 41.5 rapes (compared to an average of 40.7).
15. Panama City Beach
While it may fare slightly better than its sister city in terms of overall crime, it's far from a pretty picture at Panama City Beach. Violent crimes have, in fairness, dropped in recent years; property crimes, on the other hand, have bucked the trend by spiraling skywards. Residents now have a 1 in 13.8 chance of becoming the victim of auto theft, burglary, or theft.
14. Panama City
Move to the small coastal city of Panama City, and your chances of becoming the victim of a violent crime rise to 1 in 114. Property crime fares a little better. Part of the problem lies with the fact that the area is very seasonal: in summer, jobs swell as an influx of tourists hits the city.
In winter, both the jobs and tourists recede, leaving residents with an above-average unemployment rate, high poverty levels, and a median income of just $40,114 (compared to a national average of $55,322).
According to Neighborhood Scout, Cocoa gets a measly 2 out of 100 on the crime index (wherein 100 marks the safest place to live and 0 marks the least). The explanation for such a low score is quickly revealed with a glance at the stats. Per square mile, there are 11.82 violent crimes per 1000 residents.
That equates to 1 murder, 11 rapes, 55 robberies, and 152 assaults per year. Think that's bad? Wait until you see the property crime stats. Per 1000 residents, there are 8.90 burglaries, 39.28 thefts, and 3.40 motor thefts. Given that Cocoa is only home to 18,532 people, that equates to a 1 in 19 chance of a resident falling victim to criminal activity.
In 7th place is Leesburg, a city where your chances of becoming the victim of a violent crime stand at a shockingly high 1 in 97. If that wasn't enough, your chances of falling victim to a property crime stand at 1 in 17.
Breaking that down, that's 11.28 burglaries per 1000, 43.06 thefts, and 3.79 motor vehicle thefts. With stats like that, it's little wonder that Leesburg isn't exactly at the top of the list for family-friendly places to live.
11. West Palm Beach
The population of West Palm Beach is 111,006. However, you still have a 1 in 29 chance of being a victim of a violent crime, making it over 77% higher than the national average. That makes it the 10th spot for most violent cities in Florida.
It's also known for having a very high unemployment rate, with a rank of 9th in the state. The unemployment rate is also just over 7%, with a median income of $54k per year. The poverty rate is also well below the national average, making this coastal town less than ideal for settling down.
Tallahassee is not only one of the larger cities in Florida, but it's also the capitol. It's home to many university students, but that doesn't make it a desirable place to live. The violent crime statistics will make you rethink the decision to live there.
Currently, the overall crime rate is 58% higher than the national average, but what's really shocking is the violent crime rate. It's over 99% higher than the national average. Additionally, about 25% of residents are living at or below the poverty rate.
The unemployment rate is 7%, and the median income is approximately $46k, which is 39% below the national rate.
9. Daytona Beach
You'd think a hot tourist destination like Daytona Beach would be doing all it can to keep crime at a respectable enough level not to deter its hordes of annual visitors. Unfortunately, the amount of criminal activity is apparently just too much for law enforcers to keep up with. In 2017 alone, there were 12 murders.
The overall violent crime rate, meanwhile, gives residents a 1 in 91 chance of falling victim to something deeply unpleasant. Property crime is even worse. You stand a 1 in 18 chance of having your property stolen.
8. Miami Beach
Miami Beach is a place of sand, sunshine, and good times. You stand a 1 in 104 chance of falling victim to a violent crime. To put this in perspective, the average in Florida is just 1 in 245. Your chances of being robbed, burgled, or having your car stolen, meanwhile, is a disreputable 1 in 20. The state average is 1 in 40.
If you need any more convincing of why Miami Beach ranks as one of the worst places in Florida to live, compare its crime per square mile of 1103 to the Florida average of 59. If that's not a shocking statistic, I don't know what is.
7. Opa Locka
16,668 residents live in Opa Locka. 1 in 51 have been the victim of a violent crime (or stand a very good chance of becoming one soon). Property crime has, in fairness, decreased over the past few years. However, with violent crime stats like these, most residents have a hard time finding the positive.
Not helping the situation is an unemployment rate of a massive 10.5% and a shocking poverty rate of 44%. If you have any plans about making Opa Locka your next home, take my advice, and just don't.
6. Lake Park
For a town that has only 8668 residents, Lake Park is surprisingly rife with crime. Fortunately (well, we say "fortunately"…), it's not the kind of crime that puts the morgue under too much stress. It makes barbed wire and security alarms two of the bestsellers at the local hardware store.
Stick around Lake Park for long enough, and you stand a 12.2 in 100 chance of getting robbed. That's some pretty damning evidence about the state of the town, right there, and a primary reason it's one of the worst cities to live in Florida.
5. Pine Hills
Pine Hills is a medium-sized city in the state of Florida but has the distinction of being the top place in terms of unemployment. The unemployment percentage is almost 11%.
The poverty rate is also approximately 22%, which makes it the 7th highest in the state. The average household salary is $43k per year, and one out of every five residents is living below the poverty line.
That makes Pine Hills the 9th lowest average-income city in Florida. With rampant poverty and unemployment, the atmosphere is bleak and lends few opportunities for employment in the area.
Gainesville, Florida, is a medium-sized city with an extremely high unemployment rate of 29%. Its poverty rate, at 14%, is the second-highest across Florida, ranking at number two in the state overall. It's the third lowest in income at around $38k per year.
Gainesville is also ranked as number eight in the state for violent crime, and 26th for their unemployment rate. Overall, this city should be one of the last options when it comes to setting roots in Florida. There's little to appeal to an average person or family with hopes of finding a comfortable and safe residence.
3. Lake City
It may sound bucolic enough, but Lake City is about as far from the pastoral ideal as you could imagine. Residents face a 1 in 69 chance of becoming the victim of violent crime.
For every 13.3 people, one will have had their house broken into, their car stolen, or their wallet snatched. With odds like that, keep your doors locked, and your windows shut if you happen to drive by.
2. Florida City
Florida City is not the kind of place you want to live without a high-quality security system. Property crime is at a frankly disturbing all-time high. Residents face a 1 in 12.6 chance of falling victim to a theft, burglary, or auto theft.
The odds of getting raped, murdered, or violently assaulted are just as high. Residents face a 1 in 43 chance of falling victim to a violent crime. Need any more convincing as to why Florida City ranks as one of the worst in the state?
The city of Pahokee is the worst city to live in Florida. It's located on Lake Okeechobee and has a staggering poverty rate of 37.8%. In addition to the vast poverty, the violent crime rate is also very high, with a population of only 6,269. The average income in the city of Pahokee is only $27,095. For these combined reasons, it's advised that anyone moving to Florida should stay far away from this location.
Currently, Lake City is the city in Florida with the highest crime rate. It's located just north of Gainesville and west of Jacksonville, in the middle of the upper peninsula. The latest figures indicate that it has a crime rate that is quite disturbing and totals 1,547 per 100,000 residents.
The city with the lowest crime rate in Florida currently is Satellite Beach. This city is on Florida's Atlantic coast, just south of Cape Canaveral. Only 11,000 people live there, and the violent crime rate is only five incidents reported. The crime rate is 76% lower than the statewide average.
The healthiest city in Florida is Boynton Beach. This city has a low obesity rate of 17.5% out of a population of 80,380. This city is located between Boca Raton and West Palm Beach. The smoking rate is just over 7%, and just over one-quarter of the population is inactive.
As of 2023, Jacksonville, FL, is considered the cleanest city in the state. However, it is also considered the second cleanest in the country. That's a pretty impressive designation, which may encourage people to move to this bustling area. The Census Bureau released this information regarding the American Housing Survey.
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Written by Dana Hanson
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